Chicago violent offender on bail for repeated felony gun offenses arrested for seventh time

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CHICAGO, IL – Violent criminal Damien Stewart faces a seventh felony gun charge after Democrat-controlled Chicago released him six times on previous felony gun charges, each conviction receiving a lesser sentence than the previous one.

Stewart found himself in a familiar place on Friday after prosecutors charged him with Class X armed habitual criminal, possessing an extended ammunition magazine, leaving the scene, failure to report as a gun offender, and filing a false police report.

Stewart had become an expert in avoiding jail time, aided by liberal judges in Cook County, which includes Chicago. Entering a plea bargain for his sixth gun charge, Stewart managed to receive a lesser sentence than he did for his fourth and fifth convictions and avoided any jail time.

One of the reasons attributed to the rapid release of criminals like Stewart was the COVID-19 shutdown of the justice system, when speedy trials became impossible. Once the courts reopened, prosecutors began pushing cases through to clear a backlog.

Chicago violent offender on bail for repeated felony gun offenses arrested for seventh time

Cook County’s First State’s Attorney’s Risa Lanier, one of the architects of Jussie Smollet’s plea deal which initially gave the former Empire star a “get out of jail free” card, said the office encouraged prosecutors to enter plea deals:

“What I told [prosecutors] to do was just to take a look at your cases, and make appropriate offers based upon your evidence and based upon the law, based upon your conversations with your victims.

“So, I was not telling anyone to, you know, to give away the candy store or make any sweetheart deals, we want to ensure that the work that we’re doing that we’re continuing to do it with integrity, despite the circumstances that we’re under, but we do empower our (assistants) to look at their cases and to use their discretion.”

Stewart was able to take advantage of the rush.

In 2019, he was charged with Class X armed habitual criminal, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon with previous convictions, ten counts of aggravated battery of police, aggravated assault of a peace officer by using a firearm, and DUI.

On May 6, Cook County prosecutors dropped most of the charges. Stewart had entered a plea deal reducing all the charges to a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm with a previous conviction.

Remarkably, prosecutors then agreed to reduce the final charge to a Class 4 aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, the lowest felony grade in Illinois.

Judge James Linn sentenced Stewart to three years instead of the six to 30 years in prison he could have faced with the original charges. The lesser sentence from the judge was then reduced to no jail time after electronic monitoring time was credited.

State records show Stewart received a five-year sentence in 2015 for his fifth gun conviction, six years in 2010 for his fourth gun, three years for his third in 2009, and two years each for his first and second guns in 2008.

Despite using the liberal justice system in place in the city to escape justice time and again, his luck ran out on New Year’s Eve.

While still on parole for the other offenses, Stewart allegedly fled from police, who said they saw a gun in his vehicle during a traffic stop. After his arrest, he was taken in front of Judge Mary Marubio, a rare Democrat who believes in law and order and the rule of law.

Judge Marubio set bail at $250,000. The judge also ordered Stewart held without bail until a review of his parole status, taking the new allegations under consideration.

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Welcome to Chicago: “Unnamed suspect” convicted of murdering teen sentenced to probation, not prison

December 15, 2021

 

COOK COUNTY, IL – A 17-year-old unnamed suspect pled guilty to stabbing and murdering a 15-year-old boy in open court in Cook County, Illinois.

Instead of a fair judgment in the case, the judge sentenced him to three years of probation and community service…for murder.

The unbelievable sentence was passed down to a defendant who the Cook County Circuit Judge Steven Bernstein ordered cannot be named, even though he is now a convicted murderer.

Bernstein sentenced the murderer to a total of three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for taking a life.

Elizabeth Valdez, the sister of the 15-year-old victim, Elias Valdez, spoke about the prison sentence. She said:

“If it was the other way around, if my brother had killed him, my brother would have gone to prison for a lot of years. We just think it’s racist. He should be in jail. We’ve been struggling a lot.”

The Cook County State Attorneys’ office spoke about the sentence and said that it was handed down by Bernstein because he accepted a plea deal for second-degree murder.

They also noted that since the murderer was charged only as a juvenile, Bernstein could have sentenced him to anything from probation to an “indeterminate commitment to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.”

According to homicide detectives, Valdez and the murderer knew each other as they went to the same school, Glenbrook South High. Valdez contacted the murderer in an attempt to purchase marijuana from him.

 

Instead of paying for the marijuana that he purchased from the murderer, Valdez instead took the drugs and ran.

The murderer chased Valdez down and the two began physically fighting before the murderer pulled out a utility tool with a sharp blade and began stabbing Valdez and then ran from the scene.

Valdez was found on a parkway in the 1200 block of Greenwood Road with stab wounds to his chest. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported him to the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

The murderer turned himself in to police the following day and was taken into custody for the murder. The murderer’s attorney, David Kerstien, tried to argue that his client was nothing more than a kid who was a “ninety-seven-pound weakling.” Kerstien said:

“My guy [the murderer] was being body slammed into the concrete at least six to eight times. Ultimately he was able to extricate this tool type thing, kind of a utility type instrument. It was like a one out of a million shot this would kill him but it did.”

Elizabeth and her family were disgusted not only by the verdict but the charge that was levied against the murderer upon his initial arrest.

The family wanted the murderer held without bond and charged with first-degree murder, however, were shocked when he was released on home detention while the court case made its way through the system.

Some argue the second-degree murder charge would be more appropriate, considering first-degree murder in most states requires there to be some type of intent behind the attack that killed the person.

By Illinois State law, for it to be first-degree murder, the suspect would have had to intend to kill Elias.

Prosecutors would have most likely had a difficult time arguing that the murderer intended for the killing to happen under the circumstances, which is why second-degree murder was the more appropriate charge.

However, sentencing a murderer to probation and community service is a travesty of justice, some say.

Elizabeth spoke of the effect that Valdez’s loss is specifically on their mother. She said:

“It’s [the murder] still hard for all of us, especially for my Mum. She says she thinks of my brother every hour. She just thinks it’s not fair. He killed my brother and all he gets is probation for three years.”

Valdez’s mother, Marcela Fierros, did have the chance for the judge to hear her thoughts at the sentencing hearing. Through a family friend, her victim impact statement was read in court:

“It is unbelievable that a drug dealer murders my son with a knife and that he only gets probation.”
 

 

 

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